Indian brutality, killings in Kashmir continue

Protests and the now-routine killing of Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces have resumed in Srinagar and other parts of the violence-plagued state of Kashmir. The latest round of protests erupted after the June 11 killing by Indian police of a 17-year-old youth, Tufail Ahmed Mattoo, who was hit by a tear gas shell on his head blowing his brains out. People were so enraged by this horrible act that they immediately held a protest rally. Other deaths followed. Since then, the cycle of violence has escalated. The June 11 rally was organized to protest the cold-blooded murder of three Kashmiri youth –” Mohammed Shafi, Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Riyaz Ahmad –” kidnapped by the India army in April. The gruesome murders were carried out on the direct orders of an Indian army colonel; a major was also involved.

Each killing brings out more protesters onto the streets. The situation has now deteriorated to the point where the Indian army has been called out to enforce curfew that the people appear determined to defy.

Killings coupled with frequent curfews to clamp down on the ensuing protests have disrupted people’s lives in many different ways. One does not have to be part of a protest to get killed, as was the case with Tufail Ahmed in June or a government employee walking to work past a protest rally when a bullet struck him last month. Curfews mean a life of limbo for many Kashmiris. People have had to cope with work stoppages for decades that spike when the killings escalate; these inevitably bring people out into the streets. But such clampdowns have other consequences as well: they result in no shopping, no schooling, sometimes even no text messaging, for days on end, or even months. Cell phones have been out of commission for several days and as of writing this report (July 25), no cell phone or other electronic services were available in most parts of Kashmir. The print media has similarly been affected disrupting its service. Newspapers cannot even update their websites because of electronic service being disrupted.

There are other disruptions as well that affect people’s lives. Weddings planned months in advance have had to be cancelled at the last moment because of curfew. In the unlikely event of a family obtaining curfew passes to hold the wedding, they run the gauntlet of the numerous checkpoints. Troops manning these posts, like the Zionists in occupied Palestine, can be extremely capricious. They can disregard the passes and hold wedding parties at the checkpoint. This happened to one wedding party last month that was held up all night outside a checkpoint near Baramulla despite possessing the necessary curfew passes. The soldiers refused to allow them to pass through. This can be even more harrowing for people needing emergency medical treatment. Like the Palestinians under Zionist occupation, the Kashmiris, too, are often denied access to medical services or from reaching the hospital because some petty security official decides not to allow the sick person or his/her family to pass through.

There are other aspects to the Indo-Zionist nexus. The Israeli military, with 40 years’ experience in suppressing the Palestinians, is working in tandem with the Indian military trying to crush the Kashmiris’ aspirations. Israeli major general, Avi Mizrahi, while in India to coordinate Indo-Zionist military alliance and training of Indian army personnel by Israeli commandos, had paid an unscheduled visit to Indian occupied Kashmir in September 2008. The purpose, according to the website India Defence was to get a close look at the challenges the Indian military faced against Kashmiri freedom fighters. Since 2002, India has purchased $5 billion worth of Israeli weapons. On the flip side of the coin, the Kashmiris have adopted the Palestinian youth’s tactics of confronting the heavily armed Indian troops with stones. Resistance tactics recognize no borders.

While some people have learned to cope with frequent work stoppages by stocking on essential items such as flour, rice, sugar and tea, perishable items like milk, meat and vegetables cannot be stocked. Besides, not everyone has the means to stock up. Most people live literally, hand-to-mouth. Daily or even monthly wage earners suffer the most. If there is work stoppage because of curfew, they cannot go to work resulting in no income. Even when people have some cash available, stores are shut down due to curfew. Shopkeepers trying to circumvent the curfew by opening their shutters for a few hours can incur the wrath of the brutal occupation forces. They not only take whatever stuff they want from the store for free but also beat up the offending storeowner. Beatings are considered a small price to pay; often people are grabbed by the occupation forces and simply disappear. Days or weeks later, their bodies are found dumped by the roadside or floating in streams.

Kashmir has been in the throes of an uprising since 1989. India maintains an occupation force of 500,000. At the height of the uprising in the 1990s, Indian occupation forces strength was as high as 700,000. In Srinagar, capital of Indian occupied Kashmir, there were 300,000 troops for one million residents: one soldier for every three civilians, making Srinagar the most militarized city in the world. Since 9/11 and US pressure on Pakistan to clamp down on Kashmiri training camps on its side of the border, the uprising subsided somewhat but without an appreciable decrease in Indian military presence. India still maintains 500,000 troops that comprise its regular army, the Border Security Force and the unruly mob of Hindu zealots that go by the name of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). It is this bunch of thugs that have indulged in the most egregious crimes against the Kashmiris, especially women. The CRPF is notorious for raping women. Human rights groups say that nearly 10,000 Kashmiri women and girls have been gang-raped since 1989; few if any offenders have been apprehended, much less punished. India has used rape as an instrument of war and oppression to terrorize the deeply conservative and honour-conscious Kashmiri Muslims into submission, without much success so far.

The number of persons killed by Indian occupation forces between January 1989 and June 30, 2010 stands at 93,274, according to the Kashmir Media Service. Of these, some 6,969 were killed while in the custody of one or other Indian security apparatus. The number of women widowed (22,728) and children orphaned (107,351) is equally harrowing. Such gruesome acts are possible only because the Indian government has instituted such black laws as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act under which its occupation forces can act with impunity. There is also the deathly silence of western governments that are quick to lecture Muslims about undoubted abuses in their societies but turn a blind eye to well documented Indian crimes. Business and economic interests take precedence over principles.

Meanwhile, the people’s protests and Indian military brutality continue in Kashmir.